To help us think through how to love others better, Matt Perman gives six specific suggestions of what it means to love others that I thought I could share with you and ask you to think carefully about:
1. Have real goodwill towards the other person.
“The essence of love is having real goodwill towards others – that is, truly wanting the best for them and delighting in it.”
2. Put the other person first.
“…putting others first is not simply an outworking of the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is even more fundamentally rooted in the gospel itself. We are to seek the interests of others first precisely because this is how Christ loved us.”
3. Be eager in meeting the needs of others, not begrudging and reluctant.
“Don’t just do good works; be zealous, energetic and eager in doing them.”
4. Be proactive, not reactive in doing good.
“Here’s how the great preacher Charles Spurgeon put it: ‘Let us be on the watch for opportunities of usefulness; let us go about the world with our ears and eyes open, ready to avail ourselves of every occasion for doing good; let us not be content till we are useful, but make this main design and ambition of our lives.”
“…If we aren’t readily seeing other peoples needs, it is not simply a technical failure in the Christian life, it is selfishness. Edwards captures this well: ‘A selfish man is not apt to discern the wants of others, but rather to overlook them, and can hardly be persuaded to see or feel them. But a man of charitable spirit is apt to see the afflictions of others, and to take notice of their aggravation, and to be filled with concern for them, as he would be for himself if under difficulties. And he is ready, also, to help them, and to take delight in supplying their necessities, and relieving their difficulties.”
5. Avoid a self-protective mindset and take pains to do good for others.
“This means the Christian life involves risk. The fact that something is risky isn’t an indication that God isn’t in it. Sometimes that is the very indication that he is in it. Don’t excuse yourself from doing good because it is risky or hard. We are to go to extremes to help others because Jesus went to extremes to help us.”
6. Be creative and competent in doing good, not lazy and shoddy.
If we are going to love others as we love ourselves, obviously we aren’t going to be content with just merely getting by. We are going to go overboard and be especially careful and generous, because that is how God has loved us!